New & Used Hyundai Azera: In Depth
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Straddling the price-conscious end of the luxury class and the mainstream car market, the Hyundai Azera is a large four-door sedan that's sold in its home market of South Korea as the Grandeur. The Azera is related to the Hyundai Sonata in the way Toyota's Avalon is like its Camry: it's essentially a longer, more plush-and-stylish alternative that offers some, if not all, the premium features of Hyundai's Genesis and Equus luxury sedans.
MORE: Read our 2014 Hyundai Azera reviewThe Azera first was introduced in the U.S. in the 2006 model year, as the follow-up to Hyundai's first attempts at premium sedans, the XG300 and XG350 sedans. Aimed squarely at the mid-size sedans from Buick and at the Toyota Avalon, the Azera offered mild styling and a 263-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, while other world markets also got the Azera with smaller six-, four-cylinder and diesel engines. In the U.S. the sole transmission was a five-speed automatic with Shiftronic controls. Relatively well equipped, and relatively plain inside, the plush-riding Azera sported a base price tag of about $25,000 in its first model year.
While its relaxed handling and quiet styling remained largely unchanged, the first-generation Azera was upgraded over time. New steering-wheel controls arrived in 2007; a new navigation system with voice controls showed up in the 2008 model year, along with a new base engine, a 234-hp, 3.3-liter V-6. In 2009, Hyundai adapted the grille on the Azera, added blue backlighting for its gauges, and updated the audio and entertainment controls to include Bluetooth connectivity and iPod controls.
For the 2011 model year the Azera received a light refresh that included a new grille, headlights, LED taillights, and fog lamps, plus "high-gloss" window trim, a new trunk lid design and new alloy wheels. Powertrain changes were more substantial: the V-6 engines in the 2011 Hyundai Azera lineup became more powerful and consumed less gas. The 3.3-liter produced 260 horsepower and 233 pound-feet of torque (almost as many horsepower as the larger engine the year before) and had fuel economy figures that improved by two in both the EPA city and highway cycles, to 20 mpg city, 28 highway. The larger 3.8-liter V-6 was bumped up to 283 horsepower and 263 pound-feet, with ratings up 2 mpg in city driving and a mile per gallon on the highway, to 19/27 mpg.
Just a year after those changes were made, Hyundai brought a new Axera to our shores. The 2012 model wore the brand's latest styling, updating the Azera to look current with its Elantra and Sonata relatives. A redone interior brought equally fresh design inside, with improved materials and modern technology. This marked quite a 180 for the previously conservative-looking Azera.
Even better, the Azera's dynamics have been brushed up, lifting it out of the Avalon/Impala category into a competitive set with the better four-doors in the near-luxury class, like the LaCrosse and Taurus. The Azera's 3.3-liter 'Lambda' V-6 makes 293 horsepower, as well as 255 pound-feet of torque, and its six-speed automatic has a wide range of gear ratios to allow quick takeoffs, strong passing ability, and relaxed cruising.
Compared to the smaller Sonata, the Azera makes a case for its higher price tag by being both more roomy for passengers and cargo and offering more features. All Azeras include a standard rearview camera, as well as navigation, pushbutton start, heat seats front and rear, a 450-watt sound system, and power adjustments for the front seats. The options list includes upgrades sound by Infinity, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, and ambient lighting.
The 2012–2013 Azera is one of a set of vehicles found to have overstated fuel-economy numbers. Hyundai initially submitted figures of 20/29 mpg for the 2012 model year to the EPA, and 20/30 mpg for the 2013 model year. On a confirmation check of several vehicles, the EPA found the actual tested fuel economy to be 20/28 mpg for the 2012 Azera, and 20/29 mpg for the 2013 Azera. Owners can register with Hyundai to receive reimbursement for the gas consumed above and beyond expected levels; more details are found at HyundaiMPGInfo.com.
The Azera carried over into the 2014 model year with no significant changes. For 2015, Hyundai brought out a very mild face lift to the Azera, including a new grille, reworked headlights, a new front fascia, and modified taillights. The center stack was also redesigned, and a lot of package content was moved around, with the result being more standard equipment in most models.